For this year’s Future Shaper Awards, we presented five women with a crucial task: to find 10 winners who are breaking the mould by making the world a brighter, safer and more equitable place for women in 2020. Here we introduce them and ask them the one career lesson they'd pass on…
Vision. Resilience. Leadership. According to Decoded co-founder and one of the most influential people in the global tech start-up industry, Kathryn Parsons, these are the qualities that make up the Marie Claire Future Shapers 2020. Every year, we celebrate 10 incredible women who we believe are positively shaping the way in which women live and work today.
But we couldn’t have picked our winners alone. As the age old adage goes, empowered women empower women – which is why team Marie Claire enlisted four trailblazing females who have shifted the paradigm for women across tech and TV to help us decide which women we should be placing a spotlight today.
This year’s shortlist spans STEM pioneers, respected human rights lawyers and fearless doctors on the frontline during Covid. So it’s about time we introduced the women right behind championing them. Meet our Marie Claire Future Shapers 2020 judges …
Future Shapers 2020: meet the judges
TV Presenter – @vicknhope
Vick Hope is an award-winning TV and radio presenter, journalist and children’s author. A Nigerian-Geordie with a Cambridge degree, Vick kickstarted her career whilst she was living in Argentina and working as The Argentina Independent’s youngest ever journalist at the age of just 19. It was during that time that Vick caught the attention of MTV and landed her first broadcasting job. Cementing her status as one of the UK’s most promising female broadcast talents, Vick went on to present London’s biggest breakfast show on Capital FM with Roman Kemp for three years and is now co-presenter of BBC Radio 1 Life Hacks and The Official Chart: First Look. In 2018, Vick competed on BAFTA winning series, Strictly Come Dancing in 2018 and is the new host on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity…The Daily Drop.
Alongside her media and writing work, Vick is a human rights activist and became an Amnesty International UK Ambassador in 2020. Her volunteer work with refugee charities Akwaaba and Help Refugees saw her recognised as a Marie Claire Future Shaper in 2017. With her second children’s book, Shout Out, available from 7th January 2021, Vick is committed to working closely with organisations supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
When asked what advice she had for our Future Shapers 2020, Vick reflected on the importance of taking stock not just of the work that still has to be done, but what has been achieved so far: ‘Being ambitious, driven, and passionate can sometimes come at a cost and warp our sense of perspective: when we constantly work and strive to be better, we can find ourselves dwelling on mistakes of the past or putting pressure on what we’ll do in the future, rather than living in the present. Every moment we have is precious, so take time to celebrate the fact that YOU DID THAT! Let that drive, those passions, remind you why you love your work and why you started in the first place.’
Vice President for Facebook (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) – @nicolamen
Nicola Mendelsohn is the Vice President of Facebook for Europe, Middle East and Africa. As one of the most powerful women in the UK tech industry, she also serves on the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Council and The Major of London’s Business Advisory Board. Prior to joining Facebook in 2013, Nicola worked in advertising for 20 years, and was awarded a CBE for services to the creative industries in the UK in 2015. From 2012 – 18, she also co-chaired the Creative Industries Council alongside the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports, working with the government to realise the full potential of creative industries within all parts of the UK.
After being diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma, an incurable blood cancer, in November 2016, Nicola launched the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation – a charity focused on raising funds to find a cure and support the thousands of people living with the disease. A passionate humanitarian, she was also a Trustee of The White Ribbon Alliance, a movement dedicated to defending and improving the reproductive and maternal rights of 1.2 million women across the world. She is also co-president of Norwood – a Jewish charity supporting vulnerable children and acted as Chairman of Women’s Aid Development Board, a charity working to prevent violence against women.
Having risen up within a male dominated industry, Nicola emphasises the importance of our Future Shapers never quivering at the sound of their own voice. ‘Always speak up. Remember you’re in the room for reason and you deserve to be heard.’
Author and activist – @mother_pukka
A trailblazing, straight-talking best-selling author and campaigner, Anna Whitehouse is best known for her Flex Appeal movement, that shone a blinding light on the need to implement flexible working for mothers across the UK. Her initiative resulted in the release of the Forever Flex report in November 2020, proving flexible work can work beyond the parameters of a pandemic. Recognised otherwise as Mother Pukka, Anna takes regularly to social media and her podcast Dirty Mother Pukka to get down to the nitty gritty of all parenthood related highs and lows – earning a name as one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices of 2019 and reaching number one on the Apple Kids and Family podcast chart.
A collaborator with brands such as Samsung, McDonald’s, Specsavers and Garnier, Anna also regularly speaks on panels to address existing challenges in the workplace as part of her campaign for change. Revered for speaking candidly about life’s challenges outside of the parenting space, Anna’s latest book with her co-author and husband, Matt Farquharson, ‘Where’s My Happy Ending’ (released in February 2020) confronts their relationship after a decade of marriage, and asks some of the most thought-provoking questions about love.
Emphasising the importance of persevering in the face of failure, Anna tells our Future Shapers 2020: ‘Be prepared to pick yourself up off the floor every now and then and get a handle of whatever fears and insecurities are holding you back. Behind every success there are a hundred failed tries and frustrations. Learn from each one and use it to fuel the fire.’
Founder and co-CEO of Decoded – @kathryndecoded
Kathryn Parsons is the founder and co-CEO of Decoded, a platform that helps businesses embrace technology by teaching digital literacy and skills to business leaders worldwide. With clients including Nike, Unilever and HSBC, Decoded have reached industries in over 85 cities across the globe. Leading the way for British women in STEM, Kathryn campaigned for coding to become mandatory on the national curriculum – with the UK becoming the first country in the world to introduce it as such in 2014. The following year, Kathryn received an MBE in the Queen’s Honours for services to education. Passionate about building up the presence of female led businesses, the tech pioneer was also on the advisory board for the government backed Rose Review into Female Entrepreneurship – which revealed that less than 1% of VC funding is received by businesses with a female founder.
Far from just mentoring young female entrepreneurs, Kathryn is dedicated to empowering disadvantaged women in the UK to find confidence and financial freedom. She is an Ambassador to the Prince’s Trust Women Supporting Women and The Global Partnership for Education, which has raised $5 billion to further the education of girls in developing countries across the world.
A trailblazer by all accounts, Kathryn talks of the importance of future female leaders paving out their own way to create positive change: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world. As they say, if you can see it you can be it.’
Editor in Chief, Marie Claire – @andreacanwrite
Andrea Thompson is Editor in Chief at Marie Claire. She has been instrumental in the annual Future Shapers awards since their launch 7 years ago attending every shoot to meet the winners, many of whom have gone on to become regular contributors to Marie Claire.
In her 20 years as a journalist, she has worked for a range of publications including The Daily Mail, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Channel 4 and Grazia. She specialises in investigative journalism with a focus on women’s rights and loves bringing to light inspirational stories from people who traditionally have not been given a voice in mainstream media.
At Marie Claire, Andrea oversees the editorial content for the brand and is passionate about women’s empowerment, sustainable issues and fighting for equality in the workplace. She regularly chairs events for Marie Claire and mentors young women trying to break into the industry. For Andrea, choosing a career that chimes with your personal values is key: ‘The best piece of advice I was given is to work out what values are really important to you and build a career that is as closely aligned with them as possible. The advice I’d pass on is not to worry too much about the setbacks. In hindsight, career ‘failures’ often turn out to be opportunities in disguise.’